Posted: Tue 26th Dec 2023

RAC reports surge in animal-damaged vehicles

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Dec 26th, 2023

The RAC has dubbed 2023 the ‘unofficial year of the rat’ after reporting a significant increase in car breakdowns caused by rodents and other small animals.

This year, a record number of mice, rats, foxes, and even more exotic creatures have been causing unexpected and costly vehicle damage.

According to RAC data, breakdowns attributed to rodent damage have risen by 55% since 2018, with 303 incidents reported in the first 11 months of 2023 alone.

This increase is particularly notable during the autumn, with a 66% spike in such incidents compared to the summer months over the last five years.

Rats have been the leading culprits, responsible for half of all animal damage incidents.

These small but destructive creatures have been found gnawing on fuel hoses, infesting engine bays, and damaging headlights.

Other notable incidents include foxes chewing through speed sensor wiring and brake hoses.

The RAC's patrol reports provide a glimpse into the peculiar nature of these breakdowns.

Nick Isaac, an RAC patrol in the South West of England, recalls finding a squirrel using an air filter as a pantry, leading to a loss of power in the vehicle.

In a more unusual case, another patrol retrieved a baby pet python from behind a wheel trim of a member's car, attracted by the warmth of the brakes.

In Cornwall, RAC patrol Alister Hughes encountered a cat that had disconnected a battery terminal in a Peugeot van. These incidents highlight the creative and often unexpected ways small animals can disrupt vehicle functionality.

Alice Simpson, a spokesperson for RAC Breakdown, advises vehicle owners to be vigilant, especially during the winter months. She recommends regular checks for those who haven’t driven their cars for a week or more, ensuring no food is left inside, and being mindful of unusual smells and persistent dashboard warning lights.

For those suspecting animal damage, such as chewed cables or clogged air filters, the RAC suggests contacting a reputable mobile mechanic or using their Approved Garage Network for quality repairs. While car insurance may cover such damages, Simpson advises owners to assess if the damage justifies a claim.

As we head into the colder months, the rise in animal-related vehicle damage serves as a reminder for drivers to be more attentive to their vehicles' condition and the potential for small, uninvited guests .

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